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Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, long term travel, Malaysia, Southeast Asia, Travel

Langkawi – Part One

This place is a little slice of heaven on earth. It’s a pretty big island, but there’s no public transport, so it’s a good thing I’m across the street from the beach. I got here yesterday after a short stopover in Penang. I can’t really say much about Penang. There’s a definite Dutch influence and the colonial architecture is nice, but besides this and the good food, there’s not really much to write home about.

I had a bit of a time getting a room when I arrived in Langkawi, but ended up right where I needed to be, and home for the next couple of days is what they call a “garden chalet.” It’s just a basic bungalow, but it has AC and a bathroom, and it’s about $12 a night. The owners, Ibraham and Hiroko, are quite interesting. He is Iranian and his wife is Japanese. He spent years in the Iranian Air Force, and she has lived all over the world, literally. I enjoyed getting to know her over the free welcome beer she offered me. It’s quite cozy here, so I don’t mind the 3-night minimum stay, and might stay a few nights longer.

I was told to visit the Langkawi Cable Car, which gives the best views of Langkawi and the 99 islands that comprise it, so I decided to hire a bike from the guesthouse. Ibraham said it would take me about 45 minutes to bike each way. About 2km out of town, I saw the mile marker that told me I had another 22km to go. Thankfully the first 16km were flat, but the last 6 were killer. I grew more envious with each moped that passed me.

When I arrived at the park, I invited myself to share the cable car up with 2 Malaysian girls. It was an 8-minute ride to the first point, so that gives you an idea of how high up we were (about 700 meters). I’ll be damned if I was going to sit in that little steel and glass box by myself and risk it stopping half way. It didn’t do this until the decent – but thankfully it only stopped momentarily.

The views from the top of the mountain were awesome. You can get a sense of just how big and lush the island is. Well worth the 30 Ringgit if you ask me. About ten minutes away were the “Seven Wells”, so after about a 400-step hike, I sat myself in a cool water pool at the top of the falls. I was hoping that the cool water might revive me, as by this point in time, my legs were talking to me, and I still had another 22k to bike home. Somehow I powered through. Hiroko was waiting for me when I got back with a 1 liter bottle of ice cold water, and then we had a couple of cold beers together before I headed over to the night market for a feast.

Strolling through the market stalls, I ran into a familiar face from my hostel in Penang, and ended up going for beers with Lee and Gus, but I didn’t last long. Good thing that the only plan for the following day was lounging at the beach. I don’t think my legs would have allowed much more!